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There are trade offs when students hold down a job while in school


Many teens look forward to the day they can start working – and there are many reasons to want to save up, whether it be for clothes, gas money, food, trips or even more long-term goals like college.

However, there are many pros and cons to having a job during the school year.

Working throughout the school year can prove to be a difficult task to take on for many students. Some choose to avoid it because of how hard it would be to manage their time.

“Lifeguarding over the summer was very fun,” said Mairta Macchi, a junior at John F. Kennedy High in Sacramento. “It helped me save up alot of money. But I decided to quit it when going back to school. I’m aware of the heavy workload juniors receive, and feel like I wouldn’t be able to keep up good grades, or attend practices, on top of working.”

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“I was given lots of hours, and they would take up my whole weekends,” said Macchi. “I was already starting to get more and more stressed during the summer with all the hours I’d work. I would feel very tired all the time if I was still working right now. 

Students also have their mental health to take into account. 

“Burnout is real, especially among youth and young people,” said Vanessa Reyes, a Youth Services Specialist for the Sacramento City Unified School District. “Take on only what feels manageable for you, and remember that your well-being is always priority No. 1.” 

Experts say having an overpacked schedule can drain students’ energy, making them feel more exhausted and potentially affecting their performance in school.

“(Y)outh employment has been associated with low academic achievement, misconduct, and suicidal thoughts,” according to the National Institue of Health. “In an American study, adolescents working more than 20 hours a week had lower academic performance than those who worked fewer hours or those who did not work.” 

Working, alongside taking advanced classes and participating in extracurricular activities, can prove difficult. Students say that is especially true with respect to extracurricular athletics.

“Having a team sport such as basketball would interfere if I were to have a job,” said Kennth Xiong, a senior at JFK. “Practices, tournaments and game days can affect a work schedule if I were to work one.”

Despite the potential drawbacks, having a job in high school can bring many benefits to students, including opening up career paths they might want to pursue, said Reyes, the district youth specialist. 

“I highly encourage all students to seek out jobs that are of interest to them,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to see what you like, what you don’t like, and where you can see yourself in the future.”

JFK senior Elizabeth Lee echoed that sentiment.

“I am a SCUSD high school ambassador/peer mentor for a nearby K-8 school called Martin Luther King School,” said Lee. “I chose this job because I enjoy being around children, and can see myself working with them in my future.”

Jobs can help students develop their sense of responsibility and strengthen their work ethic, said David Turong, a senior program manager for the After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens in Sacramento

“The biggest benefit for students to maintain a job during the school year is gaining the skill of time management and the sense of responsibility and accountability,” said Turong. It is often said that ‘idle hands (are) the devil’s playground,’ and for students that take care of the school work while maintaining a job, it increases their understanding of their work ethic and capacity to complete tasks.”

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Hailey Luistro
Hailey Luistro, Reporter
My name is Hailey Luistro. I’m a senior at John F. Kennedy High school where I am active in multiple clubs and junior vice president in student government. I love reading, hanging with friends and family, and playing with my two cats.
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